Goodbye, Eleanor

It’s always a shame when you have to abandon a  writing project; I’d been planning to write a biography of Eleanor Farjeon and had started research. But biographies take a great deal of time, energy and commitment, and I decided sadly that because I don’t have much of those qualities at present, I wasn’t going to be able to   carry on with it.

Over the period that I’d been researching her, I’d grown quite fond of Eleanor.  I first became interested in her partly because she seemed to know so many people, and straddle so many litereary eras; in her youth she was a friend of Edward Thomas, D.H. Lawrence and a clutch of artists and musicians. Later she became a prominent writer  and champion of childrens’ books- and she supported herself and the man she lived with for many years purely through her writing – as someone who’s never managed to make anything like a living by  writing I’m always impressed by people who can do this.

She was an intensely romantic soul, and always needed to be in love with someone; most famously with Edward Thomas. He was married to Helen,  and  though he was very fond of Eleanor  and seemed to crave her company, was not in love with her.  After his death, she lived for many years with George Earle, a married teacher, though that did not stop her having a passionate though platonic affair with an American musician when she was in her fifties. At the end of her life, her companion was the homosexual actor Dennis Blakelock.

But all her life, she was writing and writing. Her father and two of her brothers were writers, and it came as easily to her as breathing. Much of what she wrote was light verse, perhaps unfashionable now, but she also wrote some lovely sonnets , one of which I’ve quoted in an earlier blog. She’s perhaps best known today for the lyrics of ‘Morning Has Broken.’

She  appeared to be a cuddly. cosy person,  uninterested in fashion or glamour, a homemaker, who adored cats. Though she was always able to drown unwanted kittens, which shows that she had  a surprising ruthless streak too. Perhaps all writers need one, though not for drowning kittens,  Everyone seemed to love her and she had an extraordinary gift  for friendship.  I’ve enjoyed her company over the time I’ve been working with her, and I shall miss her.  I hope someone else will want to write her biography now.

Meanwhile, I’ve just brough myself a present, which arrived in today’s post – a new biography of Edward Thomas by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, so I see I shall be spending more time in her company, and the fascinating, depressive man who was the love of her life.


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